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Posts Tagged ‘hipaa’

Does HIPAA really permit reminding patients to pick up their prescriptions?

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

We get calls and text messages from pharmacies like CVS, reminding us that it is time to pick up and/or renew our prescriptions for drugs or other medical items. When you think about HIPAA, this is confusing. In many cases, these reminders constitute Protected Health Information (PHI) … so is this really allowed?

The default answer of “it must be OK if CVS is doing it” is naive as it loses all of the context about what is and is not permitted and does not shed any insight into when and how other organizations may similarly inform or remind patients of things such as prescriptions and appointments.

Is it really PHI?

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What is HIPAA-Compliant Cloud Storage?

Friday, November 11th, 2016

HIPAA-compliant cloud storage complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) to ensure the security of healthcare patients’ data stored on remote servers accessed from the internet.

HIPAA governs how healthcare providers and their business associates, as defined in the Act, can store, manage, and share personal health information (PHI). If you’re a healthcare provider (or a cloud storage provider working with a healthcare provider), it’s important to understand how HIPAA applies to cloud storage.

With the rising popularity of services like iCloud and Dropbox, many people and companies have become more comfortable with cloud storage. There’s no question these services are convenient; being able to access universally synced data anytime, anywhere, from any device, is incredible.

HIPAA-compliant cloud storage

But that doesn’t mean these services are HIPAA-compliant. HIPAA introduces particular requirements that not every cloud storage provider satisfies.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that a particular cloud storage option will comply with HIPAA. Storing your data “in the cloud” can make it difficult to achieve the level of security required of healthcare.

Here’s what you need to know about cloud storage to make sure your data is safe and sound — and HIPAA-compliant.

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What Are HIPAA Hosting Requirements?

Monday, November 7th, 2016

HIPAA Hosting Requirements are a set of rules that place the responsibility of protecting the privacy of patients’ healthcare data on the healthcare provider and their business associates. Whether using a hosting center, a third-party datacenter, or keeping the servers in-house, if you’re a healthcare provider or a business managing protected health information (PHI), your hosting must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).

HIPAA Hosting

There are three HIPAA requirements:

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What Is HIPAA-Compliant Videoconferencing?

Monday, October 10th, 2016

HIPAA-compliant videoconferencing is a form of telecommunication used in health settings, allowing multiple parties (e.g. doctor and patient) to communicate via two-way video and audio transmissions. It provides patients with the same privacy and confidentiality that applies to in-person visits, protecting their information and giving the same care to storage and dissemination of the video as to paper documents under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

There are many advantages to videoconferencing with patients, rather than meeting them in-person. Some patients have limited mobility, making it difficult for them to physically visit a healthcare provider. Some patient follow-ups only require a quick conversation and don’t require a physical examination. For many patients, it may also be much more convenient to have a video conversation than to travel to doctor’s office.  An additional benefit is the cost savings; videoconferencing can be much cheaper than in-person visits.

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Your Guide to a HIPAA-Compliant Website

Monday, July 25th, 2016

The digitally savvy Internet user knows to check and see whether a website is secure before passing along any personal information like credit card numbers. TLS (SSL) certificates and encryption help keep hackers at bay by adding an extra layer of security to the typical website, preventing prying eyes from seeing information transmitted to and from the website. The need for website security also applies to HIPAA compliance when it comes to healthcare websites. Many doctors’ offices and healthcare companies want to keep up with the digital trend—and for good reason. Having a place online where individuals can apply for prescriptions, schedule appointments, and even get consultations is invaluable for both the patient and doctor. It saves everyone time, and it’s easier and more convenient than making a trip to the doctor’s office. But if there’s a breach of HIPAA regulations, even an unexpected or unintentional one, the cost and penalties can add up fast.

HIPAA-compliant website

Whether you’re building a new website for your healthcare company or seeking to make an existing site fully compliant with HIPAA standards, there are plenty of straightforward ways to ensure you have your bases covered. Here’s a quick overview of what makes a website HIPAA-compliant today, what to watch out for, and what best practices to maintain.

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SMS is Broken and Hackers can Read Text Messages. Never use Regular Texting for ePHI.

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

Security firm Positive Technologies has published a report (see their overview of attack on one time passwords and PDF of the SS7 security problems) that explains how attackers can easily attack the protocols underlying the mobile text messaging networks (i.e. the Signaling System 7 or “SS7” protocol).  In their report, they indicate how this makes it easy to attack the two-factor login methods and password recovery schemes where a one-time security code is sent via an insecure text message.

Devices and applications send SMS messages via the SS7 network to verify identity, and an attacker can easily intercept these and assume identity of the legitimate user.

SMS is Insecure due to SS7 protocol

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How to breach your HIPAA-compliant email in 5 minutes while getting coffee

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

Who knew that a quick cup of coffee could lead to the report of a HIPAA beach to the Secretary of Health and Human Services … and a bad day, overall.

Here is what happened:

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Infographic: Texting in healthcare – a not-so-simple exchange

Monday, April 18th, 2016

Sending text messages between health care providers and patients is incredibly common but it is also generally a violation of HIPAA.  See: To Text of Not To Text.  Texting and healthcare.  This infographic covers when texting occurs and where the risk arises.

Texting in healthcare – a not-so-simple exchange

Texting in healthcare - a not-so-simple exchange

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Is Skype HIPAA Compliant? If not, what is?

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

Revision 2016:  Since the article was published, Microsoft has started offering a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) for Office 365 Online of which Skype is a part.  While online documentation is very unclear, Microsoft has indicated that Skype is covered under this BAA and thus use of Skype can be “HIPAA compliant” as long as you have “Skype for Business” and the signed BAA with Microsoft.

However, Skype lacks many controls and features that are actually required for an organization to be compliant, such as access auditing, backups, and breach reporting.  This makes it unclear what the usefulness of its being “covered” under Microsoft’s BAA really is.  Microsoft is really just leaving it up to the Skype user to determine if the use of Skype is appropriate without taking any steps to ensure that use of Skype really could be compliant.  Additionally, even though Skype is covered under Microsoft’s BAA, the regular, free Skype used by most people is not covered.  So, for example, a therapist should under no circumstances have a session with a patient, where that patient is using the regular free Skype program.

Original Article Content:

In conjunction with their use of LuxSci HIPAA-compliant email and web hosting services, many small health care practices often ask us about use of Skype and other video conferencing software for communicating with patients over the Internet.

Is it possible to be HIPAA compliant while using Skype for sending PHI via chat, voice, and/or video?  Why?  Everyone else is doing it … shouldn’t I thus be able to as well?

The short answer is “no – don’t use Skype” and “there are other options available that offer this capability and allow you to be HIPAA compliant in the process.”  For the long answer, read on.

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Press Release: How To Text and Remain HIPAA-compliant

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

WESTWOOD, MA, March 15, 2016 — LuxSci® announces the recent launch of SecureText, a unique solution to concerns about HIPAA-compliant text messaging, and an important step to safeguard and secure electronic patient health information (ePHI).

Communicating through text message is a convenience to which we have grown rapidly accustomed. However, sending unsecured texts places healthcare providers and patients at risk in several ways: (1) ePHI-laden messages are not always encrypted during transmission or storage; (2) anyone with access to a recipient’s phone or stored messages can view ePHI-laden messages; (3) and some ePHI-laden text messages travel through organizations which lack required HIPAA Business Associate Agreements. Additionally, since healthcare providers are required to obtain and maintain consent from patients for texting – providers must ensure that patients are adequately educated on the risks associated with sending ePHI via text and presented with secure alternatives to insecure texting.

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